The expression “don’t mix business with pleasure” does sometimes make a valuable point. However, there can be times when you need to mix the two in order to gain something from your relationship with a friend or business associate. With friends, for example, they can often be your greatest advocates, and perhaps may know of someone within the company where they currently work who might need your skills, knowledge, contacts and experience.
So don’t be shy about asking everyone you know outside work – members of your family, friends, people down the pub – about whether they know of anyone who might be interested in what you have to offer. Think too about the people you’ve been talking to in a past or current job, and ask them for their opinions. Obviously if you are looking for a new opportunity outside your current employment you’ll need to be discrete and let them know that you’re speaking in confidence. The last thing you want is for the word to get out that you wish to jump ship from your current employment if the time isn’t yet right.
However, sometimes your dream job might not be with another employer, but with your present company. You therefore also need to develop and utilise your internal contacts to network for new opportunities to progress in your career. In either case, create a list of the key people that you need to talk to and then call them to ask for a meeting or an after work drink. Once you have spoken to them, drop them an email with details of what you are looking for and provide reasons why they should help you. Sell yourself to them, and they may become your key advocates. At the same time be willing to return the compliment as networking is a two-way process and not just about you.
Always follow up with your contacts on a regular basis, and start each conversation with a non-work related topic that either interests you both, or which interests your contact. This will help you to develop a relationship with that particular individual. Obviously with friends and family this will come naturally, but it’s equally as important to engage in polite, non-work related conversation with specific and targeted business contacts. After all, they need to have confidence in you and it helps if they also like you as a person.
By developing a mutually beneficial relationship with certain contacts, they will want to help you out and can really aid your career development, which will hopefully lead you to your dream job. It is always important to remember the principle that if you show an interest in and help out others, they should respond in a similar way and assist you. Even if they don’t have an opportunity for you, they might be able to introduce you to someone who does. So approach your contacts wisely, and make sure you are speaking to the right ones at the right time to further your ambitions. By following these tips and learning how to network effectively your dream job should be a lot easier to find, as you never know who can open new doors for you!